Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei
A Conversation on Method and Christology
Publication Year: 2001
What is “theological method”? Can there be more than one method? If so, how do you choose between them? How does method relate to experience?
Would experience affect your choice of method and method affect experience?
Abdul-Masih offers a three-part proposition. The first is that theological method is influenced by theological reasoning. That is, beliefs about the doctrines of revelation and God’s activity will shape one’s attitude toward experience. Your convictions provide a broad definition of “experience,” and determine how it is to be used.
Her second proposition is that one’s attitude toward experience and its use will, in turn, shape subsequent theology. In other words, the relationship between theological method and subsequent theological discourse is circular—or, more accurately, a spiral.
Her third proposition is that “experience” is itself contextual, and therefore there is no right or wrong choice but rather a plurality of methods.
To expand upon and illustrate her claim, Abdul-Masih analyzes, throughout her book, the methods of Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei, who represent the tension in contemporary theology surrounding the issue of experience.
Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei: A Conversation on Method and Christology is a book that will challenge and enlighten those who wish to expand their understanding of theological methodology.
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Series: Editions SR
Title Page Copyright Page
Any contemporary theological work must start with a description of its method. In working out such a description, however, we are concerned not only with answering how a particular theological task is done, but also with the theological reasoning justifying the method being adopted. ...
Part One: Hans Frei
1 Doctrinal Considerations: The Doctrine of Revelation
Before discussing Hans Frei’s theological position, it may be helpful to mention something about his life and background (Hunsinger, private letter, 1992). Frei was born in Germany in 1922. Both his parents were physicians. His father taught at the University of Berlin and was a well-known immunologist. ...
2 Biblical Hermeneutics
Before discussing what is meant by the “literal meaning” and the “narrative” reading of the Bible that Frei suggests, it is important to identify the problems that Frei believes have affected the way the Bible is read as a result of the question of where revelation is to be located. The polarization between ...
3 Jesus the Christ
It is important to note how a particular doctrine of revelation determines a particular way of reading the Bible and seeking meaning, which in turn determines a particular way of theologizing, in this case expounding a christology. For Frei, theology is a confessional rather than an apologetic enterprise. ...
Part Two: Edward Schillebeeckx
4 Doctrinal Considerations: The Doctrine of Revelation
Before discussing Edward Schillebeeckx’s theological position, it may be helpful to mention something about his life and background (Schreiter 1984: 1-4). Schillebeeckx, a Dominican priest, was born in 1914 and raised in Belgium. His early education was by the Jesuits. However, after studying the lives of several founders ...
5 A Hermeneutical Theory
Another aspect of the question of historical consciousness with which Schillebeeckx has been preoccupied is that of change and pluralism. In this chapter, I will present Schillebeeckx’s theory of history and historical change, and then proceed to his understanding of hermeneutics. ...
6 Jesus the Christ
This chapter will explore the way in which Schillebeeckx’s understanding of experience shapes his christology. From the previous chapters in this section, one can see that for Schillebeeckx experience is important for two intrinsically connected reasons. On the one hand, experience is the medium of revelation, ...
Part Three: Frei and Schillebeeckx: A Comparison
7 Doctrinal Differences
In the previous two parts, I have presented two different answers to the question of the role of experience in theology and theological method as found in the works of thought Hans Frei and of Edward Schillebeeckx. In this part, I will compare them and contrast them. The comparison will be done on several levels. ...
8 Biblical Interpretation and Jesus the Christ
In the previous chapter, I outlined the differences between Schillebeeckx and Frei on issues of doctrine and their respective understanding of theology and theological method. My claim was that the use of a certain theological method was not only based on their theological perspectives but also directed by their questions. ...
9 Experience and Theology
The complexity of questions about the use of experience as a source for theology cannot be reduced to a simple dichotomy, whereby either one opts for a particular theological method that uses experience as one of its aspects or one simply opts for another method that does not use experience at all. ...